I lobbied hard for Thermopolis, Wyoming. It's not a particularly warm destination, but the hot springs sound amazing. Justin says he wants to save that for fall break...so stay tuned for that one (I think it's going to be great!). Instead, we found a perfect destination in Palm Springs, California. It was supposed to be warm and sunny the entire time, and there were rooms available in the timeshare. We went to book it and we both felt terrible about it. Everything in us told us that it was a bad idea. We regrouped and settled instead for two nights in Page, Arizona, and the last two in St. George, Utah. The weather predictions there weren't quite as enticing, but good enough. We booked the trip.
Justin is the planner, I am not. Usually Justin tells me to let him know if there is anything on the trip that I'm really eager to do or see, and then he works it in and does all the rest of the planning. I love being married to this man. It's like having a built in tour guide everywhere we go. He spends hours sifting through information to find the best things to do and see. He plans an itinerary and learns all about the places we are going and then slowly disseminates this information to me throughout the trip. Every now and again we have an incident like the desert museum on our last trip, or the hike in Hawaii, but for the most part he's exceptionally good at this stuff. However, for this trip my tour guide was bogged down with midterms and drill beforehand, and the planning and preparation that went into it was next to nothing. That ended up being perfect though. A few days before we left we learned that Justin's Great Great Aunt Joyce had passed away and her funeral was being held in St. George the same time we would be there. We were booked into the timeshare, and the only units available had been the two bedroom, so we were able to offer to have his parent's drive down and stay with us there for the funeral.
Monday morning after drill we set out in our rental car for Page, Arizona. Neither of us have ever been there so we had really no expectations. The drive was beautiful. Page is so much smaller than I had expected, but that's not a bad thing. Not until it came to using the internet anyway. The hotel had a sign up in the lobby apologizing in advance for the crappy internet and stated that it's a problem throughout Page. Good to know. After a few very frustrating attempts on the internet to search for a place to eat dinner, we finally settled on an establishment that we discovered upon our arrival isn't opened on Mondays and Tuesdays. So we opted for our second choice, a rather pricey, but fantastic and delicious Mexican restaurant called El Tapatio that served us our fajitas by bringing the plate to the table, dousing the entire plate in alcohol and then lighting it on fire. Vivian was sincerely alarmed with the flaming plate of food, but as I stated before, it was excellent. We would go back, but next time it will be some day when we are a little bit richer. We went back to the hotel after dinner and made a few futile attempts to use the internet to research what to do the next day. Then we just gave up and packed it in for the night and went to sleep.
Justin woke up early the next morning and had a lot more success with the internet while all the other guests were sleeping. By the time Vivian and I were awake and rolling he had a plan for the day. See, he still pulls through for us even with limited resources. Initially we had both wanted to do Antelope Canyon. You've seen pictures. You might not think you have, but you have. It's one of the most photographed places on the planet. However, it's also on Indian land, and the Navajo won't let you go there without a tour guide. A part of me understands that they need to use this crappy farming land anyway they can to make a buck, and the other part is ticked off that they charge $40/per adult and $20 for anyone 0-12. Yeah, Vivian isn't free, and that's the part that I find to be a little over the top, but whatever. So after some deliberation we determined that we are not interested in paying $100 for an experience that she won't remember and we think we will end up repeating with her at a future point in time. Instead we'll just wait and do it with her when she is bigger. I don't know if this is the best choice, but it is the one that we made. As an alternative activity Justin found out about another hike that the Navajo only charge $12/per adult, children are free, to hike. It's not as deep as Antelope Canyon, and therefore apparently less impressive, but we determined to settle for that for the time being. It's called Water Hole Canyon, and it was beautiful, we had it mostly to ourselves, and it was well worth the $24 fee.
|Getting ready to head down into the canyon. I had to carry her on this trip because Justin's ankle is still healing.|
|She loved it whenever I would stop to let her touch the canyon walls.|
|Right before the canyon starts to narrow.|
After hiking back out we loaded up and made the two hour drive out to Monument Valley.
Monument Valley is also on Indian land, so it's a $20 charge for vehicles of up to six passengers to take the 17 mile scenic drive. It was very pretty, and worth the fee. However, the pamphlet they give you when you drive through the toll booth at the entrance is disgraceful. The person that wrote it does not have command of the English language. I don't claim to be an expert on grammar, and my use of commas is an ongoing source of amusement to my husband, but I can complete a sentence. That writer could not. Furthermore the map of named overlooks along the way did not correspond to the actual overlooks. We saw everything, but not in the order we were expecting, which left us in kind of a constant state of confusion throughout the drive, and frankly enraged my part Indian husband who had plenty of unkind remarks to make about the situation. I was fascinated with the Indian jewelry that was being peddled at every overlook, but since they took all of our remaining cash at the entrance booth, standing there with fascination is about all that I could do. The horses in Monument Valley made me sad. Very sad. Does PETA know about this place? My guess is no. I didn't know that horses hooves could overgrow like that. Turns out they can, and it is very disturbing. However, the so-called valley (it's not actually a valley) is very beautiful, and we enjoyed the scenic drive.
After that we made the two hour drive back, to the hotel in Page. Vivian was such a good sport all day, but the last little portion of the drive she started to lose it. We sang Eensy Weensy Spider and Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree over and over again to keep her happy until we got back. Justin dropped us off at the hotel. Vivian and I cruised through the hotel hallways while he went out to fetch dinner. He ended up purchasing dinner at a restaurant called Paco's Taco Shop that we had initially mistaken for El Tapatio the night before (they're right next door to each other and the signage was kind of confusing...or we're just idiots) and wandered around surveying their menu for a few minute before we realized that we were in the wrong restaurant. As it turns out, Paco's Tacos is also delicious, not quite as delicious as El Tapatio, but much kinder to our bank account.
|Getting ready to load up for the drive out there. We let Vivian out to stretch her legs a bit.|
|Our first glimpse of Monument Valley|
|I think this was our favorite overlook|
The next morning we ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel and struck out on a little hike in Page called Horseshoe Bend Overlook. So my outfit...it's ridiculous. I know this. I just don't care.
Following that hike we left Page, Arizona and headed back towards St. George. We stopped a little ways out of town to try and visit a BLM visitor's center for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, that irritatingly enough just isn't open on Wednesday's...naturally. For no apparent reason, since some guy came out and kind of snapped at me that they were closed when I tried the door. I can't fathom why the place is closed if it's still staffed, but either way, we're pretty unimpressed with the BLM's visitor's centers. We continued on to a trailhead to a short hike called the Toadstools.
The toadstools trail was pretty short so we still had time to drive on to Coral Pink Sand Dunes where I was tortured lugging myself and Vivian through the impossibly soft sand all the way up to the top of the biggest sand dune. I was greeted at the top by a wind that made the experience feel a bit like being trapped in a massive sand blaster. I lingered there for only a brief few minutes before retreating back to a wind protected area between the dunes. We took Vivian out of the backpack, and it seemed that she was instantaneously coated in pink sand. Actually it's more orange than pink. That being said, it is a very beautiful place.
|She likes to periodically lean over and try and hug me while we hike. It's very cute.|
|Horseshoe Bend Overlook|
|Vivian and I at the base of one of the features along this trail.|
|This and the others that follow are because I think that my baby girl is adorable.|
|Justin and a toadstool.|
|Taking a break part way up the dune.|
|It was like a giant sandbox for Vivian.|
|Those little pigtails retained an astonishing amount of sand.|
After a couple of hours of throwing sand around we dusted ourselves off as best we could and then continued on to St. George. We drove through the Zion tunnel, which we've never done together, and arrived at our timeshare early enough that we were able to shower and leave for dinner before Justin's parents arrived to meet us at the restaurant.
Thursday morning we went with Justin's parents to meet his dad's sisters Kristen and Susan, who drove in from Cedar City for breakfast (Great Great Aunt Joyce was a relative on his mother's side). After that we attended the viewing. We were getting ready to leave with the funeral procession (or convoy as my husband called it) when we discovered that Vivian had a dirty diaper. It was one of those terrible experiences that I imagine every mother has had from time to time where nothing seems to go right. There was no changing table, we decided to use the counter. The counter was a tiny bit short causing the dirty diaper to accidentally plummet to the floor and a hard little poop rolled out onto the floor. Vivian was overdue for a nap and was squalling and wiggling all over. I thank my lucky stars nobody came in to find me in there with my half-naked toddler perched on the counter top while I tried to contain her, change the diaper, and address the mess we'd created, and do it all as fast as I could so we could get to the graveyard before the services started. It was a complete fiasco. Great times. Mission accomplished. We made it, and I assume nobody that doesn't read about it here would ever know how that went for us. Following the graveside services we attended a luncheon and then a dinner that night for family that was in town for the services. It was great. Not at all what we had in mind when we first booked the timeshare, but one rarely plans for these sorts of things. The next morning we went to breakfast with Justin's parent's, Grandma, Great Aunt, and Aunt and Uncle before we all said our goodbyes and we went our separate ways.
Justin and I returned to Orem where we spent the next night with my parents, and intended on driving home the next morning, but instead spent the day outside in the Hexberg's backyard while Vivian wore herself down to a grumpy little mess playing with her cousins. When she was too exhausted to even muster much of a goodbye we set off for home and made it most of the way there before one of our cars broke down and had to be towed the rest of the way back to Logan in the seemingly never ending car drama that has plagued us now for months. St. George was 80 degrees, it snowed this morning in Logan. Although the homecoming wasn't what we had hoped, the trip was and we're already plotting out our next little adventure.